Here is an abused Gibson Thunderbird bass that is finally back to its original glory! Improved even! Follow the process to see what we did!
This bass came in having a poor natural refinish, a headstock that had been thinned out, and original pelham blue in the cavities! The customer also wanted to make some improvements to the playability of his bass. the factory location of the bridge was too far back which made the intonation constantly flat. By removing the threaded inserts from the body and taking the proper measurements I could see that the bridge was nearly 1/4 ” too far back! After filling the holes with old Honduran mahogany and lining up the grains the new holes were drilled. New frets were installed, and the thickness of the headstock was made up with a custom veneer made in my shop.
Once all of that work was completed it was ready to prep for paint!
What a classic look!
Now this bass not only looks the part it also plays in tune!
Here’s a great example of a very loved 58′ Tele! They loved it so much that they even painted hearts on it! Someone years ago painted hearts, spades, and binding on this beautiful telecaster!
After carefully scraping away the paint while leaving the original paint in tact it turned out pretty good! (talk about nerve racking!
The original frets on the tele were as worn as the rest of the guitar! Time to replace them! The original finish has to stay in tact for this kind of procedure. I started by sliding the frets out of the side which kept the fret slots and finish in tact. After prepping the new fret wire that is the same width but much higher they are ready to install. The finish on this guitar was so fragile that it could not be taped off to protect so i made some custom metal protective cauls to protect the finish and maple.
Now this Telecaster is ready to twang for years to come!
This 1966 Fender Telecaster came into the shop already having had a poor refinish. The body was stripped all the way back to bare ash and finished in Sherwood Green with it’s proper white primer underneath. The top coats were ambered and you can see the fades were done to complete the authentic vintage look. After the finish was hardened I began my aging process.
The right guitar but not the right look?
Here’s a replica of a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard that was brought into the shop for a complete refinish. My customer was looking to match a burst from “The Beauty of the Bursts” book. A great read if you haven’t already. So he picked out the one he wanted and I got started!
With further inspection the inlays didn’t have the correct fit to the routs. We decided to go with a new fretboard and do them correctly. Once our new piece of Brazilian rosewood arrived the board was thickness sanded to the correct size, fret slots cut, new Dave Johnson inlays were installed. After inlaying, fretting, and binding I’m now ready to reassemble with hot hide glue.
After the reassembling is complete we continued with the preparation for new finish. The old finish was removed leaving the guitar pure and ready for it’s new look.
The grain filler was custom mixed for this back and neck to have the look of the burst he had picked out. With the correct cherry on the back and neck we started the burst on the top being as close to the look of the “Brockburst” that he had picked out. Once completed ambered top coats were applied and set aside to harden.
After a few weeks of hardening the finish was then ready to wet sand and buff. The finish that I use reacts exactly as the old nitro did on Gibson’s guitars. Some times the finish will even start to check while I’m wet sanding and buffing!
Posted in Aging, Finish Touch Up, Refinish, Vintage Guitar Repair
Tagged Age, Bigsby, Checking, Gibson, Gold Top, Les Paul, Refinish, Relic
Guitar of the week!
1959 Gibson L5-CT George Gobel Model
I had the pleasure of working on one of the rarest Gibson guitars recently and wanted to share some of the pictures and history of the guitar with you. I had a customer call and say he had a 50’s Gibson L5 that he wanted to bring in. As always I was excited to see another vintage Gibson guitar, but i wasn’t expecting this!
These pictures aren’t backwards! This is a real 1959 Gibson L5-CT with a mounted PAF humbucker that is both blonde and LEFT HANDED! These guitars were only made from 1958 to 1962, and only 44 were made. From our research only 3 were made with factory mounted PAF pickups. The majority of them were finished in a cherry finish, only a few in Gibson’s natural blonde.
My customer had owned this guitar since the late 60’s and only had it looked at once. Unfortunately for him the previous shop did some strange things to his beloved beauty. When I looked inside to authenticate his PAF pickup I saw that there was added length of wire to the pickup. About 4 feet! Luckily there was enough original wire to restore the original wiring to be complete. After completing the wiring repair and giving this guitar a good setup he was able to leave happy with his great playing (and not to mention great looking) L5.
I was told when he originally purchased the guitar there wasn’t even a sign of checking. Remembering the exact moment the finish crazed he told us he had been out on a gig and left his guitar in the car during the winter over night. The next day he realized it was still outside and went out to retrieve it. When he got inside he opened up the case and watched the finish crack and split right in front of him! It happened so fast that he said the audible cracking sound made the guitar sing a bit!
Here’s an amazing example of two near twins but couldn’t be more different. Both of these guitars came in the same week for new frets. One with a factory Bigsby and clean as a whistle. The other must have been in a smokey bar it’s whole life!
Look at the difference in color of amber!
Both guitars original frets were worn out and un-dressable. So new frets were in order. The cleaner of the two I was able to intall the frets inside the binding without disturbing the binding nibs. Usually it is very rare to be able to do this due to that most fret boards need a lot of leveling to prepare for new frets. This was a lot more work, but it looks completely original and feels original.
Here's showing the remaining original binding that normally gets covered.
These two guitars were made together, then eventually repaired and restored together! How cool is that!